Student Feature

Alena Ahren, Melissa Gueiros, Hannah Kane

IAS Intersections

Student Perspectives on Global Media Lab

Last spring, students in the Global Media Lab course collaborated with national and international artists to produce 14 films. Global Media Lab (see our faculty feature for details on the class and visiting artists) is a 10 credit, production-intensive course run by IAS faculty members Anida Yoeu Ali and Masahiro Sugano. Students worked within tight timeframes to meet real-world production challenges, and engage creatively with professional artists.

Three of the students from the Global Media Lab shared their experiences with us.

Prior to taking the course, what was your media production background?

Hannah KaneHannah Kane (Culture, Literature & the Arts):: I had dabbled in film production and editing as a hobby to do with friends, and even created a spoken word film for my midterm project in a course on Contemporary Muslim Artists, but never on the same scale as this course. 

Melissa Gueiros (Interdisciplinary Arts): Prior to this class I've taken many video, photography, performance art classes with Carrie Bodle, Ted Hiebert, and many other media arts professors. Taking these classes helped me to succeed in Global Media Lab where all projects were technically demanding.

Alena Ahren (Media & Communication Studies): None!

In your own words, what was the theme of the course?

Alena: The theme was to bring light to artists and issues that are less known to students or residents of this area, and to be able to convey the artists’ messages to the world. We were able to film videos for the artists that they may not have had – a record of their performance. It was really rewarding. And we got to learn how to do this in a professional and timely manner with limited resources.

Hannah: Change. Art for change in the world, and in ourselves. And change to the community at University of Washington Bothell.

Melissa GueirosMelissa: The theme of the class was definitely unity. We all had differences but somehow we managed to work together in harmony with each other’s differences.

Describe the flow of the course – how did it look from a student’s eyes?

Alena: In our second class, we produced a one-minute short film. We had less than 3 hours to shoot and cut it. You might think, “Oh, a minute of film, that doesn’t take very long.” But we had to get the equipment, we had to think about what we wanted to do, and storyboard it out. We filmed it, we edited it, and we screened it during the third class. Then on our fourth or fifth class we had the first two guest artists, Jendog Lonewolf and Yalini Dream. Working with them, we shot two videos in the span of four hours, then worked on the editing for the whole quarter in order to come out with some successful videos.

Hannah: It was very fast-paced! Scheduling was kind of a nightmare, but it did force us to work with limitations and get what had to be done quickly.

Melissa: There was no flow: Time overtook planning and we had to work as fast as possible to get it done. I'm completely grateful that I had the opportunity to tackle the first production, so I had more time to work on the final product.

What was the most memorable project you worked on in the course?

Alena AhrenAlena: For me, it was working with Jendog Lonewolf, because I had a part directing, producing, and editing the video. I had never edited a day in my life. Learning how to direct, produce, and edit on the fly, learning that I have the ability, in this incredibly short amount of time-- it’s a confidence boost.

Melissa: Definitely the art installation that my art team produced.  We built the stage where avery r. young performed his poetry in the North Creek Center. The event was called "de skin off my blk" and the art piece was called "Water Bricks." It was beautiful seeing my vision come to life.

Hannah: For avery r. young’s live show, I did so much prep work: folding bricks and writing the names of victims of police brutality in chalk, ripping paper in white and shades of blue, imagining a "stage" transformed. I began setting up eight hours before the actual performance, and worked closely with our set designer to stage the "river of redemption," as it would be called later, arranging  all the tiny, ripped pieces of paper meticulously. Tedious work like that is why I thought I would never get into installation art, but I actually ended up enjoying myself!

What was the hardest part of the course?

Alena: The hardest part – and also my favorite part – was the quick turnaround. There was no wasted time in this course. We were working on projects all class. That’s hard because you set expectations for yourself, the professors have expectations, and the school has expectations, and you want to meet all of them. But that pressure turns into something really great.

Hannah: Directing Yalini Dream's “No Border” with only about an hour to finish filming was absolutely nerve-racking. I was really flying by the seat of my pants! It was also an exercise in balance, when to let the artist do her thing and when to provide more direction.

Melissa: The hardest part of the course was finishing it. In my opinion art is never actually finished, it is always developing itself.

Looking back on it now that it’s over, what did you get out of the course?

Alena: It was a confidence builder. I’m an older student, and I haven’t worked under pressure in a while, managing those kinds of logistical activities. But I found that those kinds of skills were really helpful.  I learned that I’m more creative than I thought I was. And while the professors were very encouraging, what I really appreciated was that they would say: “This isn’t good. You need to fix this area.” That’s really important, because when you go into the field you need the truth in order to grow professionally. This class felt like the most real-world situation that I’ve experienced in college.

Hannah: Confidence as an artist, especially as a visual artist. Although I understand the basic aesthetic language of visual and film arts, execution has always been a struggle. I found that having to work within these specific time and resource limitations is something I am actually capable of and good at! Despite already considering myself an author and poet, this class made me feel more comfortable identifying as an artist and filmmaker.

How do you think the course might affect the rest of your studies or inform your career choices?

Alena: I’m a lot more interested in video production now. I hope to use these skills more.  My career goals steer towards project management, and I would love to donate my time to artists who can use the support. That thought never occurred to me before this class – I don’t have to be the person creating the work, but I can support them.

Hannah: I feel like I could go into more collaborative art-making, and in my studies, branch out of my comfort zone.

Melissa: I still am completely inspired by all artists that I've encountered in this class. I'm now working on my masters in fine arts and meeting more artists and making more art. This class was definitely a start for my artistic journey.

How would you describe each of the professors?

Alena: They’re really awesome. They’re both very creative. Professor Sugano takes the lead with the equipment setup – what will work, what won’t work in filming. He has a lot of logistical experience. Professor Ali is more involved with the creative side, choreography – what will look good. They work really well together. They could each teach the class on their own, but I think the two of them together creates a really good dynamic for the students.

Melissa: If you want to have your perspective changed, your mind blown, your own artistic self developed, friendships that will last for a long time, and amazing art pieces for your portfolio, then TAKE THIS CLASS!

Melissa Gueiros and Global Media Lab classmate Yaryna Zhukovskaya (YZ) put together a video on the whole experience:

See a selection of other Global Media Lab videos.